ABOVE: Owner Joan Reidenbaugh preparing to open Jamaica Gardens last year.
Sadly, it was a short run. Jamaica Gardens, the colorful downtown Mount Dora restaurant, served its last customers on Sunday.
The Caribbean eatery opened six months ago and offered traditional Jamaican fare, tropical cocktails and live reggae music on weekends.
Like a lot of visitors to the quaint Central Florida town, Joan Reidenbaugh, a certified chef, fell in love with Mount Dora when she married her husband, Mark, over twelve years ago at the historic Lakeside Inn.
Over a decade later, she decided to transform the large space at 322 Alexander Street which has been home to several restaurants including The Gables, Saucy Spoon, Chef’s Pantry and The Pineapple Place. Jamaica Gardens created an island vibe at the location and cooked up authentic Caribbean cuisine.
It’s no secret that commercial rents can be pricey in downtown Mount Dora, so new business owners typically need plenty of start-up capital plus good business and marketing plans to help them grow a healthy business in a very abbreviated tourist season.
Anyone craving jerk chicken can still get it at the other Jamaica Gardens location in Longwood. Sign up for the free Mount Dora Buzz' monthly updates here.For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app.
ABOVE: Plant Street Market in Winter Garden is a larger scale version of Mount Dora Marketplace (Mount Dora Buzz photo)
It’s been a pipe dream in Mount Dora for years. This summer it will become a reality.
One of downtown’s historic buildings will soon transform into Mount Dora Marketplace, a carefully curated community market. The vacant 4,500 square-foot building, formerly home to Eduardo’s bar and restaurant, will feature a blend of independent businesses in its ground floor. The focus will be on fresh food specialties and select complementary businesses. The intimate spaces will serve as an incubator for small entrepreneurs that seek a presence in Mount Dora, but not the hefty rents that often accompany such a premium location. Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating is planned for customers to enjoy their tasty selections.
The concept has proven successful in other Central Florida cities like Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market and Orlando’s East End Market.
Mount Dora Marketplace will be anchored by The Filling Station, a casual, yet upscale, craft beer tap room and eatery. The bar will offer at least 28 craft beers on tap, plus premium wines available by the glass or by the bottle. The name is a nod to the old Texaco gas station that occupied the building many decades ago. Another space in the Marketplace will be an authentic New York-style deli complete with sandwiches made from house-baked bagels, bialys and breads.
In an effort to curate businesses that complement each other, the leasing agent, Dawn Williams, is seeking vendors that offer artisanal cheeses, fresh baked goods, smoothies, handcrafted chocolates, cured meats or other edibles, as well as small indoor plants and fresh cut flowers.
“It’s all about quality not quantity,” said Williams, a Mount Dora resident and real estate agent. “We’re not in a rush because we want to make sure we have the right businesses.” The marketplace will open at 100 E. 4th Avenue sometime this summer when all the spaces are leased and build-outs are complete.
ABOVE: The building that will be home to Mount Dora Marketplace in summer 2019 (Mount Dora Buzz photo)
The building’s owners, Michael Ross & Peter Burgess, divide their time between homes in Miami Beach and Mount Dora. The couple, along with Williams, are excited to create the modern marketplace concept in Mount Dora and anticipate the unique shopping venue will be a welcome new destination for residents and visitors.
Burgess, a commercial real estate professional and Cris-Craft boat owner, was first attracted to Mount Dora when it hosted the Antique Boat Show. Burgess and Ross fell in love with the town and purchased their home and first commercial property in Mount Dora in 2007. Years later the couple purchased the downtown building on the southwest corner of 4th Avenue and Donnelly Street where their tenants include Las Palmas Cuban Restaurant, Mount Dora Olive Oil Company and a jewelry store.
“There aren’t a lot of young entrepreneurs that can afford to open a store in downtown Mount Dora,“ said Ross of the plan for the Marketplace to function as a small business incubator. By offering these small spaces it will open doors for them.”
For the sake of consistency and ensuring a good shopping experience, Mount Dora Marketplace will have set hours for all businesses, said Ross, a retired South Florida event planner. However, the Filling Station will have extended hours.
The goal for the upstairs of the building is to create an entertainment venue that provides options not currently offered in the city, like a comedy club and other acts.
Entrepreneurs interested in applying for space at the marketplace can email Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org . Readers can stay updated on the Marketplace's opening date and vendors by signing up for the monthly Mount Dora Buzz update here.
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download its free mobile app.
It’s named for Mount Dora’s original namesake. Royellou Alley, wedged downtown between Donnelly and Baker Streets, boasts the city’s historic jail, as well as a vacant shuttered building that’s riddled with broken windows..
Get ready for a major metamorphosis. An investor with CFL Property Group is under a firm contract to purchase 440 Royellou Lane and plans to pump life into the unkempt building by adding unique retail space, as well as offices on the 4,000 square-foot first floor. The historic building, built in 1920, was formerly home to Rehbaum Hardware Store’s warehouse and sits next to the Mount Dora History Museum.
As most downtown Mount Dora landlords are currently enjoying 100 percent occupancy rates for ground-floor space, this property will allow CFL to accommodate some of the businesses on its waiting list.
“It will be great when the broken windows can be a distant memory. I look forward to breathing new life and energy into this interesting piece of Mount Dora history,” said Sandi Weld, property manager and leasing agent for CFL Properties.
ABOVE: Concept rendering by Progress Architecture
The new owners plan to freshen the building’s exterior, and a grant has been pre-approved for its facade renovation which will be revisited with the City of Mount Dora after the deal closes on March 18. Solar power will also be added, similar to CFL’s building at 402 N. Donnelly which is slated to have 117 solar panels installed on its roof by the end of March.
Anyone interested in leasing opportunities should contact Sandi Weld at CFL Properties.
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download its free mobile app. Free subscriptions to Mount Dora Buzz' monthly updates are available here.
Change is coming. Residential growth in the rural eastern side of Mount Dora has long been expected. It’s now come to fruition with Timberwalk, the recently-approved, 376 home development on Round Lake Road. The style of the homes and white perimeter fencing will be similar to Sullivan Ranch, another residential development on Round Lake Road.
The area’s newest neighborhood will be built next to the elementary school and will sprawl over 170 acres with single-family homes featuring a minimum of 1,300 square feet. Although the project didn’t require a zoning change, it will transform that area of Round Lake Road which currently is predominantly open pastures on low rolling hills. The net density of the development is 2.4 homes per acre.
Although only 46 acres of open space are required, the developer of TImberwalk set aside 70 acres of open space that includes 3.69 acres of wetlands. Among the amenities are a pool, walking trails, a multi-use ball field, as well as community RV and boat storage.
For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app. Free subscriptions to Mount Dora Buzz' monthly updates are available here.